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PUBLISHED

14 December 2023

Little Learners, Big Conversations: How Little Skool-House raises empathetic and responsible global citizens through current affairs education

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When Brenda Lee, Senior English Teacher at Little Skool-House (LSH) At-Alexandra, brought up September’s Morocco earthquake in class, she probably did not anticipate the responses she would get. 

“We can send them more tents and food but we don’t have to send meat because there are animals there, they can hunt the animals,” said a child in her class. “We can also send fishing rods because they are near the ocean, they can catch fish to eat after they make a fire using the sticks,” said another child.

The children could come up with these unconventional responses because of LSH’s unique teaching style that cultivates active learners who think out of the box to solve problems by themselves. 

“We use current issues as material to explore, discuss, learn, investigate, innovate and create answers to questions initiated by children,” said Brenda.

Children from Little Skool-House (At-Mountbatten-Square) discussing about Singapore’s 2023 Presidential Election in class.

Engaging children in discussions about current affairs, particularly sensitive topics like natural disasters, can present unique challenges for educators due to the potential emotional impact and concerns about age appropriateness. However, with careful planning and sensitivity, these challenges can be transformed into opportunities for constructive learning and growth. 

“I feel that exposing children to current affairs is an opportunity to guide them to develop values that are important, especially when the world is connected by globalisation. These values include respect for self and others regardless of culture, having awareness and understanding such that they could be socially responsible and mindful of their own words and actions and, most importantly, to be empathetic,” said Brenda.

Nurturing Critical Thinking and Global Responsibility in LSH Classrooms

In class, teachers do not instruct, but facilitate discussion on a wide range of current affairs. 

When the children share their understanding and knowledge about the world, the teachers will guide them through by asking questions and paraphrasing their statements. Some of such questions include, “What makes you say this?”, “How can we help?”, “What are the possible causes or consequences?” 

Children are given opportunities to develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and empathy towards others. They are encouraged to express their opinions, listen to others’ perspectives, and engage in meaningful discussions.

Children from Little Skool-House (At-Mountbatten-Square) discussing about Singapore’s 2023 Presidential Election in class.

Emphasis is also placed on instilling action and responsibility in children, as they are prompted to consider their role in crisis situations. When asked how they can help victims of Morocco’s earthquake, the children told Brenda, “They need warm blankets and we can donate our winter clothes to them. But how do we send them? Do we go there by ourselves?” Developing this proactive spirit in class enables LSH to mould responsible and empathetic global citizens.

Engaging Parents to Reinforce Global Citizenship Skills at Home

LSH’s efforts have not gone unnoticed by parents.

“Parents have commented that their children share current affairs topics at home. For example, the clearing of forests to build wind turbines in Brazil caused the death of macaws that could only be found in that particular forest,” Brenda said. 

Parents can also do their part to extend children’s learning. Parental attitudes significantly influence a child’s understanding of global issues. Recognising this, LSH underscores the need for a strong partnership between educators and families, urging parents to continue these conversations at home and reinforce values.

The video suggests practical ways for parents to do so – through small discussions in daily routines, providing suggestions for interactive activities or projects that can help children understand and address these global issues, and creating a safe space for children to express their thoughts and emotions. Parents are also encouraged to listen to their children’s ideas, share their own insights objectively, and engage in conversations about current affairs.

Early Childhood Education with a Difference

In Singapore’s early childhood education sector, LSH stands out due to its success in nurturing responsible and engaged citizens who are knowledgeable about local and global issues and are motivated to make a positive impact in their communities.

Subscribe to LSH’s YouTube channel to watch other episodes.


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